Sunday, October 09, 2011

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Hualien City, Taiwan

10/09/2011 Taiwan Explorer


Visiting Hualien City 花蓮市, Taiwan's eastern metropolis located in the aboriginal heartland, is something every Taiwan enthusiast should do, if they truly want to see the best of the country. I arrived from Taitung City, Taiwan's southeastern gem and had the luck to enjoy a perfect summer day, when I rode through the city with my wife. Both cities have their own specific atmosphere and while Taitung City feels like a laid back small town, Hualien City aims for more. With its over 200.000 inhabitants, it's Eastern Taiwan's industrial and cultural center with the biggest port and airport in the region.

Hualien's streets in the morning.

The mountains at its back are waking up.

What I liked most about Hualien was the scenery. Be it the majestic mountains at its back or the blue Pacific ocean at its front, Hualien is located where two climates clash and mix up. It's very likely that you see grey hazy skies above one part of the city and a clear blue horizon on the other. And then there is the beautiful Taroko National Part and gorgeous sandy beaches right north of the city - where else in Taiwan do you have so many amazing things at one spot? Nowhere. Hualien is paradise, but sadly also exposed to the nature's worst antics: Typhoons and earthquakes. Another thing that made my stay in Hualien so memorable were the friendly people and the excellent food. People are just not as stressed out as in Taipei, quality of life is much better in Hualien. And then there is food: The city is famous for wontons, muaji and tiramisu. There are two big night markets and many popular stalls, that are attracting hundreds, if not thousands of people every day. You have to be there, see that and try the local food to truly realize what an important place it takes in the daily life of the people of Hualien. There could be so much more to say about this lovely city, but I'll let the photos speak for themselves.

Below is a list of 8 must-see and must-try things in Hualien. If you're planning to visit, this might be very useful to you:

1. The Shrines and temples

Hualien is full of beautiful temples and shrines, most are small, but there are some bigger ones, such as the Karenkō Shrine and Jianxiang Cihuei Temple stand out as the ones I would recommend you to visit.

2. The food

Food in Hualien is probably one of the best in whole Taiwan. I've never seen certain stalls and restaurants that popular, that people would wait an hour or more to get to try their famous dish. And the prices are not even high in most cases. Read more about food in Hualien here>>

3. The views

No matter where in the city you are, the views are usually breathtaking. Most of the city looks like your average generic Taiwanese city, but everything around is uniquely beautiful. The northeastern part of the city lays on a small slope, which gives you the opportunity to enjoy the best views of the pacific, the Meilun river and the central part.

4. Pine garden

Pine garden, a former military base of the Japanese navy, was established in 1943 (source). Today it's a popular spot above the Meilun river with a beautiful views and opportunities to enjoy afternoon tea. On a sunny day, it's full of local and foreign tourists, read more here>>

Riding out of the city to see something special.

One of the most beautiful beaches in Taiwan is located northeast from central Hualien.

Seemingly endless road was leading us to a scenic area.

5. Chishingtan

Chishingtan beach and scenic area is truly one of my favorite spots in Eastern Taiwan. If you want to make beautiful photos and enjoy a warm ocean breeze, this is the right spot for you. If you're brave enough, you can enjoy a nice swim here. See some of my high-definition photos of Chishingtan here>>

Leaving the city further, you can visit one of the most beautiful natural wonders in all of East Asia, the amazing...

6. Taroko Gorge

The Taroko gorge is part of the Taroko National Park and one the must-see destinations of every traveler, that comes to Taiwan. The beautiful gorge, carved by the Liwu river is full of temples, bridges and natural wonders. Read more about my experience here>>

7. The Pacific Ocean views

One of the most beautiful spots in Hualien City is located, where the Meilun river enters the Pacific ocean. This is definitely a must-see parts of the city for every visitor. If you want to see my photos, click here>>

The lighthouse at the end of the Hualien port. What a lovely image.

8. The night markets

Hualien City is home to two very interesting night markets, the small, yet very popular Ziqiang Night Market and the bigger and equally popular Nanbin Night Market. The latter is famous for being the one where Hualieners relax and play games, while the first one is famous for excellent food.

Drag the Hualien map to see more markers, zoom in for a more detailed map.

What is there more to say than: Visit Hualien! If you chance to visit this beautiful island, organize a trip to Eastern Taiwan and you will not regret it. Hualien is one of Taiwan's most beautiful and friendly cities, with a lot of potential to become one of the island's top tourist destinations. It's not yet too crowded, so come and visit soon. The nature, the food, the people, the lifestyle: If you love Taiwan, you will definitely love Hualien as well. Not only that, you will cherish it as something special, something that it truly is.